Let's Talk 2000

"The heartbeat of 2000 A.D. from cyberspace"

December 1, 1998, Volume 4, Issue 12, a monthly bulletin

Topics covered in this issue:

The Millennium Doctor Speaks
News from the Field:
Talk from the Forum:
New Millennial Sites:
Contact Information

The Millennium Doctor Speaks:
"Taking the pulse of 2000 A.D."

Not only did Santa Claus come to town in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, but St. Nick apparently put in an appearance in at the White House yesterday. Yasser Arafat sat on Bill Clinton's lap and got the good news of an additional American $400 million pledge over the next five years.

This new U.S. money was designed to spur stepped-up contributions from more than 40 nations assembled in D.C. by Clinton yesterday for a one-day conference on economic assistance for the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. A total of one billion dollars in international aid was pledged.

It has been a good millennial month for Yasser Arafat, who is using his prized Bethlehem playing card to boost his chances to attain century-end self-determination and statehood for his Palestinian people.

After winning a second interim "land-for-peace" withdraw of Israeli troops at Wye Plantation in early November, Arafat then invited Britain's Queen Elizabeth to attend the 1999 December millennium celebrations in the town where Jesus was born. He then presided over the newly opened Gaza airport, which holds the promise of boosting the Palestinian economy and welcoming sympathetic European and Arab tourists to the Holy Land.

On November 18th, member nations of the U.N. General Assembly backed the Palestinian run Bethlehem 2000 commemorations with a resolution. See full coverage on this below in our lead feature. Will this millennial momentum make up for lost time in the Middle East peace process?

Folks on the ground are holding out hope for a tourism deluge in Israel and the West Bank in the year 2000. This hope is leveraged on two factors--a visit by the pope in the year 2000 (which is yet to be confirmed), and successful navigation of final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians by May 1999.

Despite these great expectations, tourism insiders tell me people in Europe and the U.S. are holding off in making Holy Land reservations for 2000. A two-year plus slump in tourism continues till now in Jerusalem. The slump is so bad that even East Jerusalem's "Christmas Hotel" runs the risk of being closed again this year for Christmas!

Jerusalem correspondent, Elaine Fletcher, recently filed a report from millennium "ground zero" for the San Francisco Examiner on this whole subject. It is well worth reading in its entirety, as millennial scholar, Richard Landes is quoted, plus yours truly. See "Promised Land in 2000?" at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1998/11/16/NEWS8069.dtl
Also see Fletcher's "A New Look Draws Nigh for Bethlehem" at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1998/11/16/NEWS9648.dtl

Will "Peace on Earth--Goodwill toward Man" heralded 2,000 years ago elude the arrival of the third millennium? Let's hope not. During this holiday season, let's pray that the Spirit of 2000 will fill our hearts and homes, as well as the Middle East.

Do you have millennial news to share this month before '99 begins? Send your program or city news to our daily Talk 2000 forum, at 2000ad-l@usc.edu. The next "Let's Talk 2000" will cover the New Year's scene and the new developments in consumer millennia mania.

News from the Field:
"Here is the latest news on year 2000 efforts."

UN ASSEMBLY BACKS BETHLEHEM 2000
To mark the 2,000th anniversary of "Jesus Christ's birth and the onset of the third millennium as a symbol of peace among all people," on November 18th the U.N. General Assembly voiced support for Bethlehem 2000, a project of the Palestinian Authority.

Scheduled to open Christmas 1999 and conclude at Easter 2001, Bethlehem's celebrations will involve religious and cultural events as well as economic development and tourism. Palestinian sources expect at least two million visitors.

In addressing the General Assembly, Palestinian U.N. observer, Nasser al-Kidwa, said Bethlehem, "like all other Palestinian cities that have suffered under the long and harsh years of occupation," suffered damage and deterioration to its infrastructure. He noted the cost of the Bethlehem 2000 project was $336 million, excluding private support, and therefore needed assistance from the international community.

The UN press service reported that member nations expressed the need for immediate change in the situation on the ground in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The Assembly also expressed the hope for rapid progress in the Middle East peace process and the achievement of the final settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides within the agreed time, so that the millennium may be celebrated in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation.

Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold spoke after the resolution's adoption to say that Israel stood ready to cooperate with the Christian and Arab community on the Bethlehem 2000 Project, but would not support terminology in the draft text which "advances a narrow political interest," anticipating Palestinian statehood. The resolution text was later changed from "Bethlehem, Palestine," to "the Palestinian city of Bethlehem."

Senegal Ambassador Ibra Deguene Ka announced that the Government of Italy had agreed to the UN's request to hold an "International Forum Bethlehem 2000" in Rome in late February or mid-March 1999 to mobilize further international support from member states.

The UN is expected to take up the Bethlehem 2000 project again next fall, before Arafat opens the "historic commemorations" in December 1999. Co-sponsors of this next UN resolution are already being lined up: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Chile, Comoros, Cuba, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Yemen.

For the full UN story on Bethlehem 2000, including summaries of General Assembly discussion, search for press release "GA/9506" at http://www.un.org/News/Press/

The complete Bethlehem 2000 resolution should be posted to the UN web by mid-December. Look for it at: gopher://gopher.un.org:70/00/ga/recs/53/res53-27.en

PAPAL BULL ANNOUNCES JUBILEE

The 30-page papal bull or document, entitled "Incarnationis Mysterium," was unveiled in high ceremony at the Holy Door and parts of it was read before Mass. The term "bull" comes from the Latin word "bulla," or seal, and refers to the papal seal which formal documents carry.

"Incarnationis Mysterium," was published two days earlier in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and Polish. The full text can be read at the Vatican's Jubilee 2000 site, http://www.vatican.va/jubilee_2000/documents/enframe4_en.htm

"I therefore decree," writes the pope, "that the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 will begin on Christmas Eve 1999 with the opening of the holy door in Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, a few hours before the inaugural celebration planned for Jerusalem and Bethlehem and the opening of the holy door in each of the other Patriarchal Basilicas of Rome."

"At Saint Paul's Basilica, the holy door will be opened on Tuesday, 18 January, when the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins, as a way of emphasizing the distinctive ecumenical character of this Jubilee." He adds that "the closing of the Jubilee Year" will come "the day of the Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 6 January 2001." During this 13th month period from Christmas 1999 to Epiphany 2001, the Vatican expects some 25 million pilgrims will visit Rome.

In the Bull, the pope recounts how the first Jubilee in history was celebrated in 1300 during the pontificate of Boniface VIII. He then mentions three traditional signs associated with the Jubilee: pilgrimages, the holy door and indulgences. The second part of the Bull outlines "Conditions for Gaining the Jubilee Indulgence" through penance during the Holy Year.

As previously outlined in his Apostolic Letter "Tertio Millenio Adveniente" (1994), the pope again called upon nations to use the jubilee year of 2000 to lessen the burden of unpayable Third World debt. "There should be no more postponement of the time when the poor Lazarus can sit beside the rich man to share the same banquet and be forced no more to feed on the scraps that fall from the table (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Extreme poverty is a source of violence, bitterness and scandal; and to eradicate it is to do the work of justice and therefore the work of peace." Full story, see the Vatican Information Service news release, http://www.vatican.va/news_services/vis/dinamiche/c3_en.htm


THE MILLENNIUM IN THE MEDIA
"Nerve Tonic For The Year 2000 (religious aspects of year 2000 computer transition)" Matt Scanlon. Mother Earth News, Dec 1998 p4(1).

"For the eve of the new millennium, I shall buy a sink plunger and head off to the Orkneys." (Column) Laurie Taylor. New Statesman (1996), Oct 9, 1998 v127 n4406 p55(1). Summary: A man and seven of his friends have decided to spend the end of Dec 1999 at the Orkneys to escape the cheap symbolisms that the new millennium will occasion. The man has similarly shunned spending lavish Christmases and has decided to hold his second wedding ceremony at a very austere town hall.

A New Year's wish. (celebrating New Year's Eve 1999 at the turn of the century) Camille Chatterjee. Psychology Today, Nov-Dec 1998 v31 n6 p88(1).

"Tomorrow's Child" by Jerry Adler. Newsweek, Nov 2, 1998 p54(1). Summary: Children born in the year 2000 will come to inhabit a universe different from the 20th century. There will be advantages as the baby boomers retire, but some disadvantages will also be present. A look at different aspects of life in the early 21st century for children is offered.

"Millenium's approach gives churches urge to build.(churches plan new buildings)," Lisa Miller, The Wall Street Journal, Nov 11, 1998 pB1(E) col 3 (18 col in).

"Church seeks to allay fears of new millennium." (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America)(Column) Gustav Niebuhr, The New York Times, Nov 7, 1998 v148 pA12

"The Y2K Blame Game," United States banker, Volume 108, Number 11, pp. 48 Nov. 1, 1998. Summary: It's never too soon to make someone pay for the millennium bug. The first 21 lawsuits have been filed and countiess more will surely come.

Could Y2K cause a global recession?" by David Kirkpatrick, Fortune, v. 138 no7 (Oct. 12 '98) p. 172. Summary: Ed Yardeni, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York, claims that there is a 70 percent likelihood that the year 2000 (Y2K) problem will cause a severe global recession.

Talk from the Forum:
"Here is a recap of recent conversations"

CYNICS, VISIONARIES AND Y2K

This past week, Austin Repath millenniumvigil@hcol.humberc.on.ca, "The Millennium Pilgrim," posted his thoughts on where people were in regards to 2000 and projected that millennial dreamers might find an alliance with Y2K activists:

"For the last five weeks I have been traveling across North America talking with people about the millennium, mostly in small groups, often in people's home, church halls, occasionally in university lecture rooms. At the start of the trip I found that most people fell into two camps. However by the end of the trip I become aware of a third viewpoint. At this point in my thinking, I am aware of a trinity of power points that have not yet interacted, let alone coalesced. In my own mind, they all seem to be needed if anything significant is to come forward at this millennium moment.

The first camp were made up of the cynics: "tomorrow will be just the same as today; nothing will change just because of a date change." Their viewpoint is certainly realistic, pragmatic, and perhaps the most honest perception of the times. However, it holds back any possibility that we could make something happen. Secure in the knowledge that nothing really ever changes, this faction sits on its hands. It withholds its support, if not actually in a passive aggressive way, hinders any attempts for real change. In many way this group offers the worst case scenario: tomorrow will be same as today and yesterday and the day before.

The second response came from the wishful thinker, the dreamer, the visionary. This groups is awash in the possibility of positive change, transformation, in the idea that, if only we could get together, we could create a better world, more peaceful, more caring, more compassionate. We-could-make-it-happen seems to be the rallying cry of this faction. (I need to confess that I am one of these types, although I find a cynical side of my nature in full agreement with the nothing-is-going-to-change faction) Usually a sign of this positive change group is wonderful ideas coupled with a lack of the wherewithal to make it happen. That is, they have limited resources, little money, and insufficient capacity to build public support. It has in my opinion no real energy or power. Yet without this group fermenting the public imagination, I'm afraid we'd be doomed to the sheer boredom of the mundane day-to-day.

Then towards the end of the trip, another group started to appear, the Y2K faction. This faction, which appears to have some reality base, is barely able to contain its energy and power, which is currently spilling out into dozens of newspaper articles and international conferences. The motivation that comes from the fear that people might be without food or heat, that businesses might suffer, is enormous and is reflected in the millions of dollars being spent to prepare against the Y2K bug. It is definitely the dark side, the shadow side of the positive visionary. Where this dark vision of the future will take us remains to be seen. It has already focussed world's attention on the millennium eve, confronted us with our shortsightedness, our dependeny on technology. It does offer an opportunity for people to come together to solve a global common problem: one that is urgent and serious, but not devastating or catastophic as others that we might imagine. And much more...

As I look back over my trip, I have the sense that we are entering into a year of increased insecurity and upset, that one might see as the crucible/threshold of a defining moment. I can see the possibility that as these groups come together, and I believe they all will be drawn into this moment whether they wish it or not. The focus on the Y2K bug contains the energy to bring about a massive response that when coupled with the visionary could offer genuine change that might even engaged the buried idealism of the heel-dragging cynics. 1999 is going to be what we have all hoped for: one very fascinating unforgettable year.

YEAR ZERO PROMOTER ALAN DECHERT ADechert@compuserve.com responded to Repath's proposition to ride the mythical Y2K horse: "Myths can have tremendous power--no question about that. But this particular Y2K myth is not a good one to ride. Two reasons:

1) Its power is likely to fizzle as more and more organizations report that they're Millennium Bug free. In other words, you'd be mounting a horse with a broken leg (I think this is most likely).

2) If, somehow, the Millennium Bug Riders were to succeed in whipping up a frenzy over this, the impact could be devastating. If any sizeable fraction of the populace actually believe (in late Dec 99) that there will be massive computer failures come 01/01/00, what would happen? They would be pulling money out of the banks (heading for the hills) and likely cause a run on the banks (and other businesses) that really would cause massive failures.

I think this [second] scenario is unlikely because--in the main--the media understands this: they have no interest in tearing apart a system they depend upon for survival. [Dechart's advice] .... Find a different horse.

New Millennial Sites:
"Here are new sites in cyberspace"

BETHLEHEM 2000 PROJECT: "Follow the Star"
An independent Palestinian web site reporting on "Bethlehem 2000." Offers city news, West Bank tourism information, and calendar information.
http://www.bethlehem2000.org

MILLENNIUM SCOTLAND: "Experience the Hogmanay winter festival"
Scotland is planning major celebrations throughout the millennium period. A week of celebration in Edinburgh includes the world's largest Hogmanay winter festival with famous bands, plays and classical concerts in many venues throughout the city, street parades, torch light processions, street performers, large screens and stages in the streets. As the millennium hour rings, the world's largest fireworks displays will be seen over Edinburgh Castle, with an estimated one million plus people taking to the streets. Matrix Hospitality reports "accomodations are becoming scarce in Scotland for this once in a lifetime experience so booking now is essential."
http://wkweb5.cableinet.co.uk/matrixhospitality/Year2000.htm

Contact Information:
"Your link to the third millennium"

Talk 2000 Forum Home Page: http://www.talk2000.org

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Editor: talk2000@rmi.net
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
author, The Star of 2000
(719) 636-2000 Phone
Publication keywords: millennium, events, usenet
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